A member of the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on the investigation of the Lekki Tollgate incident and police abuses has said the panel would respond to the white paper released in reaction to its report.
Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, who is also a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, was one of the seven-man panel where he represented the civil society.
The panel, on November 15, submitted its findings on the Lekki tollgate shooting, indicting the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Police, and offering 32 recommendations to the state government, in order to broker peace with aggrieved youths.
Mr Adegboruwa said upon the submission of the panel’s reports, “lawyers on the payroll of the government and other employees of the government, took turns to denigrate the reports on national television, in paid adverts in newspapers, and on the social media.”
He said ministers “have also commented on the reports, called members of the panel unprintable names, and even compared victims of brutality and human rights abuses to goats and taunted their already traumatised families and friends.”
The Lagos government on Tuesday released a white paper where it said the report was filled with inconsistencies and contradictions, and the panel’s findings and conclusions were “totally unreliable and unacceptable.”
The government also said the finding that nine persons died at the Lekki Tollgate on the night of October 20, last year, was not backed up by evidence.
In a statement by Mr Adegboruwa on Wednesday, he said it has become necessary for the panel to study and give response to the white paper.
“On November 30, 2021, the government released two separate white papers to the general public. The panel was not informed of this action and it was not availed copies of the said white papers, till this moment.
“The Committee that reviewed the reports of the panel and which produced the white papers was headed by the Honourable Attorney-General of Lagos State.
“On December 1, 2021, the Honourable Attorney-General of Lagos State was a guest on Arise Television, where he took time to discuss the reports of the panel and the contents of the white papers that his Committee produced. The impression was also created that the panel mismanaged funds released to it.
“It has become necessary therefore for me and all other members of the panel to study the white papers and make appropriate responses thereto. There will be no holds barred, since the government itself has opened the doors for public scrutiny of the report and the white papers,” the statement read.
Mr Adegboruwa said the panel relied on the evidence of witnesses, documents tendered before it, “and the goodwill of the people of Nigeria, throughout its assignment”.
“It is painful for me and the panel that the government is creating the wrong impression of financial impropriety as a tool of distraction when the panel had a secretariat that managed all its funds, through the Ministry of Justice.
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“Although I served on the panel free of charge without collecting a dime, I know as a fact that other members served sacrificially, giving up their time, families, and careers for a whole year.
“At the appropriate time, we will respond to all the inaccuracies, the coverups, and the inconsistencies contained in the white papers released by the government,” he said.
Mr Adegboruwa said what happened at the Lekki tollgate on October 20, last year was already in the public domain, and those who received the bullets and the doctors that treated them knew what happened.
He added that the panel reports only confirmed what most Nigerians already knew.
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